Horticultural Gardens

Welcome to the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens

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We invite you to enter a variety of gardens, including the unique natural environment of the North Carolina Sandhills. Here you will find collections of plants both familiar and unusual, all presented in specially designed landscapes. Whether you visit to indulge your botanical interests, to learn more about the Sandhills, or to enjoy a stroll through our enchanting gardens, you will be enriched by the experience.

In 1978, the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens became a reality with the establishment of the Ebersole Holly Garden. Over the years, additional gardens have been implemented, including the Rose Garden, the Conifer Garden, the Sir Walter Raleigh Garden, the Atkins Hillside Garden, the Fruit & Vegetable Garden, Hackley Woodland Garden, Ambrose Japanese Garden and the Desmond Native Wetland Trail Garden. Today, the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens cover thirty-two acres. They are open to the public every day of the year from dawn to sunset and offer an educational adventure to anyone with an interest in plants, nature, and design composition.



The Landscape Gardening Program was originated by Mr. Fred Garrett in 1968. The curriculum is nationally recognized and certified. The program, now managed by Ms. Hilarie Blevins, maintains the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens and uses them for student instruction. She is Head of the Landscape Gardening Program.

Patrick Dougherty 2021

Bloomin’ News Publication



Begin your visit of the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens with an orientation in the G. Victor and Margaret Ball Garden Visitors Center open from 8am until 5pm daily. This beautiful informational center transpired as the result of a large, personal donation from Victor and Margaret Ball of Chicago, Illinois. The center was completed and dedicated in December of 1999.


Hackley Woodland Garden

The Hackley Woodland Garden consists of a vast array of woodland and shade loving plants. It is mainly a concentration of many varieties of azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons with other companion plants which have interest throughout the year. Among the plants you will find deciduous hollies, witchhazels, winter daphne, hosta, helleborus, and astilbe.

Fruit & Vegetable Garden

The Fruit and Vegetable Garden includes an orchard of dwarf fruit trees, berries, vegetables, and a vineyard.

Desmond Native Wetland Trail Garden

The Desmond Native Wetland Trail Garden is a nature conservancy and bird sanctuary with a boardwalk meandering among old poplars, pines, and plant material indigenous to wetland areas of the Sandhills.

Ebersole Holly Garden

The Ebersole Holly Garden, an arboretum certified by the Holly Society of America, is the largest accessible holly collection on the East Coast. Within the collection are 28 holly species and some 350 different cultivars.

Atkins Hillside Garden

The Atkins Hillside Garden includes a winding river rock stream with five bridges, waterfalls, pools, and the Falls Overlook, a gazebo surrounded by diverse plant material. The gazebo provides space for small outdoor lectures or quiet repose and viewing before continuing your visit in the gardens.

Succulent Garden

The Succulent Garden is designed to show the use of succulents usually found in a Southwest desert setting, but are perfectly happy in the Sandhills region of North Carolina. The walls surrounding the garden produce a microclimate making some marginally hardy plants capable of surviving in our environment. The area is mulched with various size stones that retain heat very much like the desert.

Conifer Garden

The Conifer Garden features varieties of slow-growing conifers that reflect color, form, and texture of foliage not often viewed in the southern states in such a fine collection.

Annual Garden

The Annual Garden is the only garden that is totally different each year. Designs are selected well in advance so students can propagate and have plants ready on a schedule resulting in a variety of colors, textures, and heights. A different surprise theme is introduced each year.

Sir Walter Raleigh Garden

The Sir Walter Raleigh Garden occupies more that an acre of land. It is a formal English garden which was designed and constructed to commemorate the attempted colonization of Roanoke Island in 1584. This garden includes several mini gardens including the Holly Maze, the Fountain Courtyard, the Sunken Garden, the Ceremonial Courtyard, and the Herb Garden

Childrens Garden

The Children’s Garden is a fun place for children to visit and see how to grow vegetables that they can be proud of.

Margaret Ambrose Japanese Garden

A Japanese Garden brings out the essence of nature in harmony with human intervention. This three acre Japanese Garden has an entry bridge overlooking a dry creek bed, a tsukubai which is a stone basin and drip fountain, an azumaya which is a viewing shelter overlooking the upper pond, and a dry or so-called Zen Garden. Amongst these wonderful structures you will discover Japanese Maples, Japanese Black Pines, azaleas and other plants indicative of a Japanese Garden.

Rose Garden

The Rose Garden displays in promenade fashion a variety of old roses which are considered to be among the best for the Sandhills region.